Too few

I saw my brother last weekend, and he told me that thirty-two people had been shot in a single weekend in Chicago. Due to the dramatic number of shootings in such a short amount of time, the shootings received significant media attention. The reality is, had only a handful occurred, it is likely that no one would have heard anything about them. Well, maybe the one involving the AK-47 would have made the news cycle. Maybe.

Last night I checked the Homicide Blog and saw that a young man had been shot and killed a few blocks from here while riding his bike to the store on Friday evening. The shooting took place at 7:45 pm. It was not yet dark. We didn’t hear about this killing, and we live so close. Another death so easily ignored.

Monday night our good friend Jade was here, and we got talking poetry and ended up with a bunch of my poetry books out. We were flipping through and reading aloud some of our favorite authors. In an anthology edited by South African author, Wole Soyinka, titled “Poems of Black Africa”, I read these lines by Gambian poet Lenrie Peters:

Isatou died
When she was only five
And full of pride
Just before she knew
How small a loss
It brought to such a few.

The last line made me cry when I first read it. I am haunted by it still.


  1. I do want to point out, as a journalist, that if the paper included the names of everyone who was killed, of every evil thing that happened, no one would read it.

    In fact, we already get hounded enough for being TOO negative.

    Not to say that people don’t matter. I totally believe they do. But there are realities to face up to, really.

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